Saturday, July 30, 2016

Enabler : The Private Pain & The Promise of Hope


I'm not sure I can pinpoint EXACTLY when in the past nine days I came to the realization I was an enabler, but I know exactly the moment in time when I used the word for the first time to describe my actions therefore having the realization CONSCIOUSLY for the first time...That was today.

*Deep Sigh*

I just googled the word enabler and read the definition, and then....because I am a glutton for punishment...I read an article on how you know when you are one. In the words of Jeff Foxworthy, "I are one."

I coach enablers. How can I be one? I am sitting here stunned.

I wish someone were here right now so that I could physically collapse in their arms and be held why I sob. My entire body from top to bottom needs a bone-deep cry.

If the first step if acknowledging you have a problem, then we can check that one off the list. Next.

I have known for awhile...especially since February...that there was a problem, but hand to God I really thought the problem was that I wasn't enough, wasn't managing someone or things enough, that I was too much or too little...hell, one of the handful of reasons I started counseling mid-March was because one particular person in my life had me convinced of all of these things. The joke is on them, I did need counseling, and it continues to be the best thing I have done for myself...maybe ever.

The thing about counseling...at least good counseling...is that you get better. Your eyes are opened. Fears are faced. Tough truths are met head-on....and you grow. I have two guests in the middle of mine too - God and the enemy - they are wrestling for my heart, mind, body, and soul. Sometimes....like last Friday, last Sunday, and every day this week...I am sitting at the edge of the arena watching them....blow. by. blow.

*Tears*

{cold washcloth time}

I have been suffering silently for many, many years about many things...but none more than this. I just didn't know what "this" was...and now that I do, I am struggling not to feel completely foolish. So tonight I am allowing myself the space and time to grieve that feeling of foolishness....and the shame that goes with it. In the words of my nephew, "Mistakes were made." Many.

Another week of counseling...Another epiphany.

I don't know what your private or silent pain is, but I know you have one. I know that in fact the struggle truly is real...for you, for someone you know, and for every single person populating this earth. For many of us we suffer out loud - In. Public. For many still, this private, silent pain is within a much smaller group...and for many within only their own heart and mind.

For me...counseling has been a God-given miracle. It is the most painful thing you can imagine wrapped up in a beautiful box with Christmas wrapping. On most days, I equally loathe and love it. I also know it is healing me from the inside out. God is meeting me in these spaces of my life and my past that I have hidden...and some that I never knew existed such as the deep, private lesson of enabling shown to me this week. A week of pain and lessons and learning I could not have imagined just six months ago.

If I ever get a tattoo...the word restoration will be a part of it somehow because as I look back on this journey of the past four and half years, I see that word like a flashing neon light in the night sky all along my path....again and again. I could (and have...and did again tonight) weep over the loss of time and people and things in my journey. The reasons vary, but my own responsibilities in there are many. BUT....but there is also hope. Great hope that God will use the restoration he is creating in my own life. Hope that I will rise up and try again....Hope.

Hope.

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." - Psalms 126:5

Last Thursday, I was in a prayer room and given that verse...and tonight it spoke to me once again. There is no shame in the tears that I am shedding through these lessons and my own healing. A healing I am claiming once again tonight.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Struggle For Boundaries

I must confess I have never known a yes I didn't like.

*facepalm*

Lunch?

Yes.

Dinner?

Yes.

Coffee?

Yes.

Volunteer?

Yes.

Meet at dawn? 

Yes.

Give money?

Yes.

Meet?

Yes.

If you ask me a question, I say yes. If you send me a text or an email, leave me a VM....I am a quick response. My go to is to respond quickly, make you happy, and work to find a way to say yes to you.

In the past year, maybe two, I have made strides at using the word 'no' more...or at a minimum, 'get back with me in six months.' Why? Because I have yes'd myself into exhaustion.

The problem is that my yes problem is not the sole culprit; I also have a problem with boundaries. 

By problem, I mean I have none.

By none, I mean none.

I can be whipped into a frenzy by an email or a crisis or simply someone using the phrase "I need you" in a sentence. Your emergency (real or imagined) or lack of planning or crisis or issue is now equally mine. You no longer have to sweat it, I will worry for both of us. Worse are those that simply want company in their state of upheaval. "Join me, won't you, in my emotional hurricane," they say without saying.

"Why yes I will," I respond as if I am in a trance (envision wide, spinning eyes like in a cartoon).

*Ugh*

Yesterday, I heard myself audibly say, "No." I got a "look" in return. I then double-downed with, "I am instituting some boundaries." More "looks."

This is where you go, "So proud of you. High fives. Woo Hoo."

Stop.

I just got the worst night of sleep in weeks.

*Shaking Head Here*

This is the post where I share that implementing change and wisdom into your life and your circles (read that as friends/family/tribe/work/sphere of influence) is HARD. Your people "get" you and by that I mean As. You. Have. Always. Been. They have a vested interest in keeping their world "as is" and so adjusting to your newfound "wisdom" may not be welcomed with a ticker tape parade. 

#thestruggleisreal

Worse (and yes there is a worse) your heart might wilt a little under the looks and resistance you feel from them and so you cave. 

Stop.

Change is hard.

Growth is hard.

Do it anyway.

I woke up (and by woke up I saw the light side of 4:30 a.m.) and wrestled (until the coffee pot finally kicked on) with myself and God and the headache I woke up with about the whys and wherefores of the past 36 hours. Why can't change be easier? Am I doing this all wrong? I have been back from a much needed vacation for a mere 24 hours and I am exhausted. Why is this SO hard...I might have whined like a small child on that last part.


Boundaries are not about saying no. The truth is that they are all about saying yes. To yourself. To the highest and best use of your time, your day, your life. BUT, but before you can get to the sunshine and roses of your best life ever, you have to withstand and survive the reality of teaching those around you that you are no longer their yes man or yes woman. That my friends, is the secret. Surviving the transition. Saying no is EASY. Not caving under the gasps after you utter it is the truly hard part.

We teach people how to treat us. I have believed that for years. That said, we are also teaching people standards of living by how we live our own lives.

That Heather is a go-getter, works all the time, driven, busy, and on and on. That all sounds pretty good. Right?!?! 

Well....

I would rather be known for working hard and playing hard - and even more - knowing the difference.

I am jealous of those that I see fighting for balance and winning. So what is the difference between them and me? They aren't caving when they get pushed back for going against the standard they have set for themselves. It is easy to blame the world, but the world didn't make you agree to work 80 hours a week. The only one in that room was YOU. The world didn't make you open that email on your vacation. Check your phone at 4 a.m. Agree to a 7 a.m. meeting. 

So as I approach this second day back from vacation with a calendar that looks like a toddler vomited on it and email that has still not been touched after a first day back where I went from meeting to meeting from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. and then spent the next 2 1/2 hours reviewing proposals in emails from my cell phone, texting about said proposals, and one phone convo at 9 p.m. #forthelove 😳🙄...I am going to be kind to myself. I am going to use the word no (possibly audibly 😂) and ignore the quizzical responses to said nos. I am going to fight  for my balance as hard as I fight for everyone else's. I am going to work to live out what I expound on daily and stop being a GIANT hypocrite. I am going to focus on breathing to the rhythm of the waves (if only in my head). 

We are asking too much of those around us. Period. To correct that, we first have to stop asking too much of ourselves.

Boundaries.

This might just be the toughest lesson I have to learn...yet.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Lessons In Play - #Family

The kids are already teasing me about my sappy end of vacation post(s). Am I THAT obvious?!?! 😳🙄😂 

When I was a little girl (4-7 years old), we had an International Scout. After the twins were born, the backseat was full with two car seats and my older sister in the middle, my (biological) parents of course in the front, so my father would pack (Sis has (and exceeded) his packing skills) the back in a semicircle and then place my toys on the inside of the circle, and then make a pallet in the very center. This was the 70s so the fact that I was packed in the middle of luggage in the rear of a tin box with no seatbelt was a-okay (don't say I haven't lived on the wild side). 😳🙄😂  I was probably born a great traveler, but environment contributed as well so clearly the wanderlust in me runs deep. I still like to be snuggled in like a sardine in a car, plane, boat, hotel room, hostel room, etc. Pack me in and tuck me in; I'm good. 😊 I like adventure and new views, roadside dives, sleeping on the move, and stamps on my passport or shells from a new beach or photos I have taken along the way; whatever "marker" of/for the travel works. I like plans and also freedom from plans; I am a walking conundrum that way. I'm always looking to the next getaway (small or large). Always in prep mode and struggling to BE in the moment or season of my present. 

This is me.


Except...we can change.

I love my family. I adore them (truth be told). Having been born into (and out of) a family that has burst into flames time and time again over mine and my Sis' lifetime, I see our united little family of six as a Phoenix rising from the ashes (of sorts). We aren't as big as the kids want us to be and certainly there are obvious (and less obvious) missing pieces for each of us, but we rise...day after day we RISE up and fight for our little family, for each other. We love hard and fight fair and laugh like hyenas. In some freakishly weird way - we are a (unique/new) blended American family. (I just laughed out loud. 😂)

Last year we fought for the time and saved our money and searched multiple spots in search of somewhere we could have a family beach vacation. We had a great time (hence round two this summer), but in some ways we landed there (maybe just me) sliding and crawling and clawing our way to some down time. It was beautiful and perfect, but there was something missing (again maybe just me).

So much has changed this past year, yet three weeks ago, it was a calendar announcement/challenge from my counselor that shook me out of a fog and got me moving again. The more I moved, the more a-has I had...and I realized I wanted more from our vacation this year...I wanted more FROM me FOR my family. I arrived at this vacation rested and ready. Now as we start winding down from it, I am proud to say I gave this time with my family All. I. Had. in the tank (and then some). I played hard, beached hard, slept hard, and gave all. Frankly, I am in awe of ALL of us because I feel like we got 27 hours out of every 24 hour day. It has been AMAZING! ☺️ I have also read and written like my pen was on fire (used up two of them). True rest helped me listen to my spirit again...and my mind - the creative part that never gets to play in my normal life full of leading and decisions and numbers and strategy. I am already plotting how to hold onto that creative energy because I love that part mostest about myself (if I am truly honest). 


To know me well is to know that one of my very favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech. I re-read it again this past week. As cheesy as it may sound to some, for me showing up at the arena this week has looked like being fully present and all-in with my family at the beach. I believe I did...including the facedown part...literally (beach volleyball found me diving and landing facedown in the sand...A. Lot. 😂) and it was AMAZING. Truly. 


In Brene Brown's book "Rising Strong" (which I re-read this past week) she writes that we don't have enough "honest conversation about the hard work that takes us from laying facedown in the arena to rising strong..." and I agree with her. Everyone wants to tell and live the being brave part, but who really wants to share how many mouths of sand, bruises, and foolish-looking moves you have to survive in order to rise? Anybody? The truth is we need more people showing us how to both be brave AND how to feel our way back up. 


This morning a friend and I were texting about an idea we have...we had lunch together a few months back and it sorta flowed out of our mouths. I was scared into silence. Literally. How could we? I? Do this thing? I texted her 36 hours ago and said, "I'm ready." Somewhere between the arena of this week at the beach and a world in pain, I heard God so clearly...this idea isn't necessary or perfect because you two know what you are doing...it is perfect because you don't; others need your willingness to walk out how to stumble through this...feel your way through it. I wept. 

Maybe the world doesn't need more people to be brave as much it needs more of us to be transparent about what being brave looks like on the other side. 

So you were brave and went to Haiti...but what happened when you got back?

So you were brave and started a business...but what happened when you made mistakes, cash got tight, employees acted out, or ideas failed?

So you were brave and put on the workout gear and walked a couple of miles in front of people...but what happened when you got halfway through that first mile? First week?

So you were brave...

...what happened next? What happened when you failed? How did you get up and do it again?

So what did I learn on my summer vacation?

Above all else I learned that the "arena" truly looks like many things...but this past week it looked like a beach vacation with my family where I was active and present...where I played and competed....where I listened and observed - where I didn't die when my Fitbit registered 12,000+/day - where owning my body and my age felt like an afterthought instead of frontal-lobe concern - where I was able to experience my childhood memories as just that, memories. 


Which reminds me...I love to play. I really do. I want the ball. I am a born competitor. I am curious. I am, in many ways, still that girl in the back of the Scout - packed in for the ride - except...for the very, very first time in a long, long time, I remember that young girl's ability to be present and enjoy where she was at and make her own play - even if it was a make-shift playroom on a five hour drive to Memphis to visit relatives. I have missed her.

Now to integrate her into my every day life. 

Counseling starts back up Tuesday. Game on.

Swoosh - just passed a sign - Playground Ahead ❤️☀️